pCloud Review

Pros:

  • pros Great value lifetime subscriptions
  • pros Generous free plan with 10 GB of storage
  • pros Easy-to-use interface
  • pros Industry-leading upload and download speeds
  • pros Web interface comes with integrated media player

Cons:

  • cons Storage is limited to 2 TB
  • cons Local file encryption costs extra
  • cons No document editing functions
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Score: A

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Overview

Price: Starting at $4.99 per month/$47.88 per year/$175 for a lifetime subscription

Free Plan: 10 GB of storage

Trial Version: 30 days

Features: Cloud storage, cloud synchronization, file sharing and versioning, media player

Available Storage: Up to 2 TB

Devices Supported: Unlimited

Supported Platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Main Features

We’ll start our review of pCloud with a list of the most important features you should know about when using the software. From file backup and restoration procedures to cloud synchronization and file-sharing options, these are the basics that any good cloud-based storage solution must check off first.

Backup, Restore, Sync

The essential feature of any cloud storage platform is the process of backing up and restoring files from the cloud. While many competitors offer a separate app with specialized folders for your files, p Cloud goes a step further, giving you access to a whole virtual disk that’s accessible from File Explorer, much like Microsoft’s OneDrive. 

This drive will by default include everything from your “My Documents” folder, but you can easily drag and drop other folders to be backed up – or create completely new ones. Alternatively, you can right click on a folder and press “Sync to pCloud” to instantly add it to the list. Unfortunately, the desktop app can do this only with folders. The web interface allows you to add individual files as well. 

pCloud uses a system called block-level file sync. After segmenting each uploaded file into blocks, pCloud reviews them, reuploading only the parts that have been modified. This greatly speeds up the process on successive sync operations, especially when dealing with documents that frequently change. 

You also have the option of setting file-type exclusions so certain system files or files with extensions you don’t want uploaded will be ignored even if they’re in your sync folder.

Cloud-based synchronization means that if you delete files locally, they will also be deleted from the cloud. Should you need a file that’s been deleted or you want to revert to a previous version of a document, you can use the Rewind function on the my pCloud web interface. The free plan supports versioning up to 15 days, while the premium packages allow you to preview or restore up to a month’s worth of old file versions.

Speaking of restoration, it’s a very simple process – with the caveat that it doesn’t work with the desktop or mobile apps. The Rewind option allows you to preview files, download them, restore them as the current version, or delete them permanently. You just need to select a calendar date, pick the file version you want, and you’re done.

The best cloud backup providers make cloud synchronization between devices a breeze, and pCloud is no exception. First off, there is no limit to the number of devices you can synchronize. Cloud-based sync is done in real time, and you can select whether you want to cap upload and download speeds to keep some of your internet bandwidth for other tasks or family members. You can also turn on offline access by marking folders marked for upload as favorites. They will then be reachable from your device even when you are offline.

File Sharing Options

Now that we’ve talked about online file storage and backup options, let’s continue with a brief pCloud Transfer review. This excellent service is actually completely free, and the best part is that you don’t even have to have a pCloud account. You simply write the email addresses of yourself and your recipient, write an optional message, choose whether to encrypt the file(s) with a password and voila – click Send Files, and it’s done. 

A similar system exists in the mobile and desktop versions of the pCloud app. The web interface additionally allows Premium and Premium Plus users to create public folders, which can not only provide direct links to your files but double as hosting services for static websites, including embedded image support.

Bonus Features

In this section we’ll talk about pCloud’s browser extension, private encryption key system, built-in media player, and third-party app integration.

pCloud Save

In addition to the web interface and desktop/mobile apps, pCloud has a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. It integrates with browsers seamlessly, adding a right-click menu option to save images directly into a special folder on your cloud drive. There is a logic flaw here, though, which we need to mention in our pCloud review

The extension works very well unless you plan to use two-factor authentication. If you do, it will boot you from your pCloud login as soon as it is turned on and not allow you to log in unless you turn it off. It’s a logical choice from a security standpoint, but one that can severely limit the use of the browser extension.

pCloud Crypto

By default, pCloud encryption keys are held server-side. While the company’s staff members won’t ever actually look at your data, it presents a risk in the unlikely case that their servers get hacked or the government makes them hand over user information (as part of a legal investigation, for example). What is pCloud’s solution to this you ask? Local encryption through Crypto, of course.

There is a catch, however. Unlike large cloud storage companies like iDrive, pCloud charges extra for a private encryption key through the Crypto service. You can pay $47.88 for a one-year subscription or $125 for a lifetime one.

Media Player

Another nice feature in pCloud is the built-in video and audio player. You can use it to preview media files you are planning to upload or stream those that you already have. Looking at pCloud vs Sync and other similar cloud storage solutions, a media player may not necessarily tip the scales, but it’s definitely a nice feature. It is especially useful on the mobile app, where you can use it as a full-fledged music player, with all of the basic functionality you’d expect, including creating playlists.

App Integrations 

One of the great features of pCloud is how easily it integrates with many other popular cloud backup solutions. You can use this to transfer your backups from other services such as Google Drive or Dropbox. That’s not all, though. As many positive pCloud reviews on the net attest, people love the social media and email integration options as well. These streamline the process of backing up important photos and other data directly from your email client, Facebook, or other social networks. There are even pCloud plugins for popular software such as Adobe Lightroom.   

Security and Performance

pCloud takes security very seriously. The company employs sophisticated 256-bit AES encryption and offers a two-step verification system for both its apps and the web interface. In order to have the most secure cloud storage possible, you may want to consider pCloud Crypto, which ensures that the encryption key for your files is held solely on your computer. Just don’t forget your master password!

When it comes to performance, pCloud is no slouch. Claiming 80 MB/s download speed for pCloud Business and Premium users – and half that for those on the free 10 GB plan – was a bit ambitious, maybe. Still, in our tests both the download and upload speeds beat iDrive and Backblaze handily. For example, a 2 GB file took just over two minutes to upload and around a minute to download – not bad at all. A pCloud vs Dropbox comparison was even more one-sided, with upload speeds in particular being nearly four times slower while using Dropbox. Props where they are due: pCloud is easily one of the fastest online storage options around.

User Experience

pCloud is very user-friendly. Everything from registering an account to using the desktop or mobile app is easy and intuitive. The registration process takes less than a minute, as all you need is an email address and a password (you can also use social media or Google accounts). As with other top cloud storage options, the software works through a web interface compatible with all operating systems or through dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

Web Interface

pCloud’s web interface is the most powerful tool at your disposal, so we’ll focus on it. The File section is where you can browse your uploaded files and add new ones. It works very much like Windows File Explorer, and you can preview images and videos using the built-in media player. 

If you have older files to review, pCloud’s web interface has a very handy Rewind feature that allows you to dial the clock back to any date within the past month (15 days for free users) and preview, download, permanently delete, or restore any of the file versions within that time period.

The Backups pane allows you to connect with your Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, or OneDrive account and back up files that you have there, while the Trash pane holds files you’ve deleted. Those are kept for 15 days by default, but you can extend this period for up to a year by paying for extended file history separately.

We’ve already mentioned pCloud Crypto in this review. If you buy it, you’ll also get access to the special Crypto Folder. Anything in that folder will be protected by local encryption, and you can use it to store an unlimited number of files, up to the limit of your chosen plan (maximum of 2TB).

Other notable features include Shared, File requests, and Audio panes. Shared is where you can see both folders and individual files that you’ve decided to share or that other pCloud users have shared with you. File requests are a great option for receiving large files from other users, as they’ll be able to upload files to a folder in your account without gaining access to the contents inside. 

The best cloud storage feature for music lovers is the Audio pane. Here you can access a bona fide multimedia player that can sort your media library by song, artist, or album. It even lets you create playlists or search for particular tracks. This is a clear win over most of the competition.

Clicking on your user name in the top right corner of the screen lets you access the settings menu, change the interface language, access help materials, or log out of your account. You can conduct a pCloud security review by looking at all of the currently connected devices (deleting any that you don’t need) or add two-factor authentication, adjust notifications, add/see linked accounts, review your payment history, and more. 

Desktop App

The desktop app works much like the web interface, though it looks a bit different. The key change here is that by installing it you gain access to a virtual drive accessible directly from File Explorer in Windows or Finder on macOS systems. You can create new folders or drag-and-drop existing ones directly onto it. Alternatively, you can right-click any folder and add it to your storage cloud by selecting the Sync to pCloud option. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier in our pCloud drive review, the desktop version supports this for folders and their contents but not for files.

Another option that you get by installing the desktop app is the ability to set upload and download limits and to observe and limit hard drive usage. These can help you put less strain on your hard drive and internet connection.

Mobile App

Because pCloud supports an unlimited number of devices, you may be tempted to install it on your mobile phone as well. While we believe that the best personal cloud storage experience from pCloud comes with the web interface, the mobile app does have the handy option of automatically backing up all of the images and videos from your mobile device’s gallery. 

Combined with the ability to easily back up your contacts and other important information, as well as listen to your music and videos directly from the app, we’d say that pCloud mobile ticks all the right boxes for a cloud storage app.

Pricing

The first thing we should mention about pCloud pricing is that none of the options offer unlimited storage. Much like iDrive, pCloud instead opted to allow you to sync an unlimited number of devices per account.

The pricing scheme includes personal, family, and business plans. The personal plans are Premium and Premium Plus, as well as a pCloud free plan that provides up to 10 GB of storage. The Premium plan gives you 500 GB of file storage online and is currently discounted to $175 for a pCloud lifetime subscription or $47.88 per year. Upgrading to Premium Plus increases the storage capacity to 2 TB, while increasing the prices to $350 and $95.88. 

Our pCloud review has mostly focused on the personal plans, but families can also opt for a $500 lifetime plan that offers 2 TB of cloud storage with five separate user logins. Companies, on the other hand, have access to pCloud Business, which combines 2 TB of storage with special perks such as activity monitoring, file access management, and several organizational tools. Prices start at $287.64 per year for three users and scale with the number of employees.

You’ll notice that our pCloud storage review makes sparse mention of a free trial. That is because this option is available only for Business accounts. Anyone signing up for one can get 30 days of unrestricted use, with all pCloud Business features available. Personal plan users can instead opt for the free 10 GB plan, which features most of the functions of the Premium plans, except for much smaller storage capacity and shorter file versioning (15 versus 30 days).

Local file encryption through pCloud Crypto is free for all Business plan users. Users of Personal and Family plans can buy it as an additional service for $47.88 annually or $150 for a lifetime subscription.

Alternatives

As the many cloud storage reviews online can attest, pCloud finds itself in a very competitive niche these days. iDrive offers similar features, with support for unlimited devices and excellent versioning options. It also features extensive scheduling options and up to 10 TB of storage, but has no lifetime subscriptions and generally costs a fair bit more ($69.50 per year, with the first year being cheaper). The iDrive free plan gives you only 5 GB of data storage.

Then there is Backblaze, which offers unlimited storage for $60 per year, but for only one device per account. Backblaze also offers only 10 GB of shareable data through B2 cloud storage. 

Other top cloud backup options include Acronis True Image, Carbonite, and Crashplan. Carbonite is basically a more expensive version of Backblaze, while Acronis offers state-of-the-art security and social-media integration like pCloud’s, but at a much higher price. Crashplan’s monthly plans offer unlimited storage and devices for $10 per month, making it a less expensive option than pCloud if you hate long-term commitments.

Syncing Up

We started our pCloud Premium review with zero knowledge about this company, and now we are thoroughly impressed. Don’t let the fact that this is a relatively unknown company fool you: The mixture of fast upload and download speeds, excellent security, great bonus features, and more-than-reasonable prices make up for that – and then some. Downsides include feature-limited desktop and mobile apps (that are missing some important features from the web interface) as well as storage capacity that maxes out at 2 TB. Nevertheless, we thoroughly recommend checking out pCloud. It may not be as popular as iDrive or BackBlaze, but this service has a lot to offer.

FAQ

Is pCloud safe to use?

Yes. If you want absolute safety for your data, get localized file encryption through pCloud Crypto.

What is pCloud Crypto?

It’s a client-side encryption system for your pCloud files.

Is pCloud private?

Yes and no. Technically, unless you pay for the Crypto add-on, your encryption key will be stored on pCloud’s servers. The company’s confidentiality agreement allows them to grant access to your encrypted files only in response to a government-issued warrant.

Is pCloud better than Dropbox?

That depends on your needs. Our pCloud review revealed that it is much faster than Dropbox when it comes to upload and download speeds. It also provides better security if you pay extra for client-side encryption. Dropbox does have better integration with Office and Google Docs documents, however.

How does pCloud transfer work?

It can easily transfer files up to 5 GB in size. You simply type the recipient’s email address, add a personalized message if you like, and click Send Files. That’s all there is to it.